In the past year, we’ve had a whole lot of turnover in the Twin Cities dining scene. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of the restaurants that have opened (or reopened as a new venture) as well as a few we can look forward to opening soon.
510 Lounge & Private Dining
Opening in the summer, the former La Belle Vie space will be reopened by Chef Don Saunders of The Kenwood. The Kenwood has smart design with great service and delicious food; I’m looking forward to seeing what transpires in this famous space.
510 Groveland Ave., Minneapolis
Augustine’s Bar & Bakery
A quiet opening last fall in an unassuming area of St. Paul, this bakery and restaurant on Selby by the same folks at The Happy Gnome is a welcome addition. The palm-festooned walls are welcoming, the drinks have been strong, and the Merguez sausage mac & cheese is so loaded as to be considered a casserole. Delish.
1668 Selby Ave., St. Paul
Bad Waitress Northeast
Just like its original iteration on Nicollet, this new addition to the hopping ‘hood in Nordeast Minneapolis has nonexistent day service, which means you get to fill out your own ticket and be your own server. It’s fun, it’s cheeky, and this new space is downright gorgeous. Night turns to full-service and the menu expands from breakfast to include bar “snackies.”
700 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Just opened a few weeks ago, Billy Tserenbat, the guy who brought Sushi Fix to Wayzata, is shaking up the lakeside town with some south-of-the-border food and drinks. For fun foods and tequila to tip, add this to your summer destination list.
830 Lake St. E, Wayzata
J.D. Fratzke of The Strip Club Meat & Fish fame teamed up with Matty O’Reilly of Republic fame last year to open Red River Kitchen, and now brought us Bar Brigade which opened in the Luci Ristorante space at Cleveland and Randolph in St. Paul in March. A 40-seat space that’s been spruced up for French fare, the food is accompanied by a bar program put together by Tattersall’s Dan Oskey.
2060 Randolph Ave., St. Paul
Another lovely new restaurant to open in Wayzata is Chef Gavin Kaysen’s Bellecour. Fight for your reservations in these early months or go to the bakery like I did for a slice of some of pastry chef Diane Yang’s crepe cake that always brings me joy. Or do both. And grab some baked goods to go. That’s my plan for both immediate and delayed gratification.
739 Lake St. E, Wayzata
Chef Laura Bonicelli has turned a fresh meal delivery business into a brick-and-mortar restaurant with wine and beer. For the past nine years, people have been eating up her fine Italian meals. Now there’s a restaurant in which she makes every meal an experience to remember.
1839 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Opened on Valentine’s Day, Bottle Rocket in St. Paul brings us back to a time when we “played more, relaxed often, and worried less.” With a whole new branding and look, a menu of classics, and a kicked-up cocktail list, this space at St. Clair and Fairview that formerly housed Scusi is a new addition to the Blue Plate Restaurant Company family.
1806 St. Clair Ave. S, St. Paul
Brake Bread Bakery
You may have seen or read about these guys in various media outlets as the bakery that delivers their subscription-based bread orders to its customers via bikes. So successful was this venture, Nate Houge and Micah Taylor of Brake Bread opened their own “brakery” in their beloved West End neighborhood of St. Paul where they also offer toast with plenty of toppings, cookies, coffee, and pastries. I recommend the cardamom twist. And I do not recommend taking the toast with Nutella to go because it’s too delicious a mess to handle as the Nutella melts while driving home.
1174 7th St. W, St. Paul
Bull’s Horn Food & Drink
Bull’s Horn Food & Drink is causing a fair bit of buzz. Chef Doug Flicker of Piccolo and Esker Grove, with his wife, Amy Greeley who also paired up with him on Sandcastle at Lake Nokomis, have purchased the Sunrise Inn in South Minneapolis to give us something new to celebrate as Piccolo has closed. We’ll stay tuned for more details on this sure-to-be gem.
4563 S 34th Ave., Minneapolis
Restaurant and Cafe Alma
Restaurant Alma by Chef Alex Roberts closed for a stint to renovate and reopen as an Alma that includes a restaurant, café, and an intimate hotel. The design is swoon-worthy, the food is now available beyond what their former hours and bakery pop-ups had been, and we are thrilled to see such an evolution in this vibrant urban Minneapolis location.
528 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis
Nestled (get it? nest?) between his Upton 43 restaurant and Rose Street Patisserie in Linden Hills, Chef Erick Harcey has a grab-and-go chicken restaurant called The Dirty Bird. Take it from me, it’s a snap to order some chicken and sides (don’t forget the carrots…they’re stupid-good), grab a dessert from Rose Street to go, and then sit at the bar at Upton 43 for a drink while the food’s being prepared before taking your bundle of yum off to Lake Harriet for a picnic.
4312 Upton Ave. S, Minneapolis
A place where I’ve spent many a night listening to Irish music, we can now grab some breakfast grub in the adjacent café space (which has been refurbished to the point of gleaming wood and vintage fixtures to beat all) or later-day eats in the bar, itself. I’ve had some great later-evening meals of sandwiches and burgers in the glow of the dart boards and neon ACE BAR sign at this old neighborhood steady on St. Paul’s University Avenue.
2162 University Ave., St. Paul
Erik the Red
Erik Forsberg opened up a Downtown Minneapolis eatery with Carolina barbecue and Nordic foods…which might be a marriage with a name change of Minnesota Barbecue. In the former Hubert’s space on Chicago Avenue, there are smorgasbords and smoked meats including slab bacon, turkey legs, short ribs, brisket, salmon, and lamb. I’ve got my eye on some mac & cheese and a lefse wrap.
601 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis
Esker Grove is the Walker Art Center’s new restaurant, led by chef Doug Flicker and inspired by seasonal ingredients. The space is stunning, the food is gorgeous, and it’s a 2017 James Beard Foundation Semifinalist for Best New Restaurant.
723 Vineland Place, Minneapolis
I wrote my ode to this redux of The Salt Cellar concept on Cathedral Hill last year; it’s a place for all-day lounging, eating, and drinking. Chef Graham Messenger has pizzas, sandwiches, and entrées as well as a breakfast sandwich that’ll make me settle in for a long while. Grab a drink, watch a game, and be as leisurely as F. Scott Fitzgerald was when he was known simply as “Scott.”
173 Western Ave. N, St. Paul
Glam Doll Donuts — NE Minneapolis
Glam Doll Donuts first opened on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis in 2013, serving up donuts to dough-lovers morning, noon, and night. Now, at this new location on Central in Nordeast Minneapolis, we can not only get the diverse and delectable doughy treats we’ve come to know and love, but there are also a few savories available such as the “Belly Bomb,” which is a mac & cheese donut. Take it from me, this is worth the buzz. It’s got cheesy flavor and macaroni texture with a crunchy crust that’ll bring you back again and again.
519 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Herbie’s on the Park
If you have seen the sculpture of Herb Brooks by the Ordway, overseeing all the action in Rice Park in St. Paul, you’ll be able to find the new restaurant in the Minnesota Club, Herbie’s on the Park. It’s a social house with tavern fare and handcrafted cocktails perfect for the game or theater crowd.
317 Washington St., St. Paul
Hi-Lo Diner, a retro diner on Lake Street in Minneapolis, is the place to find whimsical food envisioned anew as well as pulled from days of yore by Chef Heidi Marsh, with cocktails to beat the old grasshoppers of yesteryear. I’m a sucker for the Hi-Tops of donut discs with various toppings, not to mention they’ve got a killer burger.
4020 E Lake St., Minneapolis
Jefe: Urban Hacienda
I have fond memories of walking along the riverfront in Minneapolis, getting hangrier and hangrier by the moment late last summer. Walking into Jefe for some Mexican street food and double-fisting some pineapple sodas as we waited for a table was the perfect salve for my hungry soul.
219 Main St. SE, Minneapolis
JUN is exactly what the North Loop in Minneapolis needed: a Chinese restaurant where I’d rather eat-in than take-out. It’s a rare combination to find these days, but Jack Wang and Jessie Wong have created a gorgeous restaurant with respectable bar program to match their top-notch food. The pork-filled bao bao steamed buns and the scratch-made noodles that grace many of the entrées are superb, my favorites being the beef chow fun and spicy Sichuan dumplings.
730 N Washington Ave., Minneapolis
Kata Organic Cafe & Fitness Boutique
I’m not someone who gravitates to a place that advertises a fitness boutique with food attached, but let me assure you that this lovely casual restaurant in Linden Hills puts no pressure on to work off what we take in. The menu is more than spa food, the cookies are cheap, and I love having a walk-up option in one of the hotter food neighborhoods that is high-quality without too fancy a package. While there’s plenty to be enjoyed in the colder months at Kata, sidewalk dining has been divine, so I can’t wait to get out there again this season.
4279 Sheridan Ave. S, Minneapolis
There’s a whole lot going on in the newly named East Town neighborhood of Downtown Minneapolis; not just the big Vikings stadium, but also great new eateries like McKinney Roe at ground level of the Wells Fargo tower. There’s a two-story dining room and expansive patio with food for a business meal, a special occasion, or as casual as a happy hour.
530 4th St., Minneapolis
Mercado by Earl Giles
Uptown’s got a new taco spot with both coffee and cocktails to boot at 29th and Lyndale. Mercado by Earl Giles has taken over the space formerly occupied by Marche and is accessible by foot, bus, car, and bike…thanks to its location overlooking the Greenway.
2904 Lyndale Ave. S, Minneapolis
Mercury Dining Room and Rail
Mercury Dining Room and Rail is a gorgeous new offering by the Blue Plate Restaurant Company in the space previously occupied by Brasserie Zentral in the Soo Line Building in Downtown Minneapolis. A longer bar, a lovely space, a delicious pimento cheese toast appetizer…and an event space (with a killer roof) called Shindig are just a few of the features that make this hotspot a must-stop.
505 Marquette Ave. S, Minneapolis
I just attended the opening of this new restaurant and I can say that it breathed life anew into the former Marin space on Hennepin Avenue. Mercy is a revamp in look, feel, taste, and experience, headed up by Chef Mike Rakun. It’s another design by Shea that accomplishes more warmth and comfort in the upper level of the space as has been so loved in the Library Bar in the lower level…and the food and drink are just as comfy.
901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Chefs Tyge Nelson (La Belle Vie, the Inn, Chino Latino) and Stephan Hesse (Masu, Libertine) have flipped the old Glockenspiel on West 7th in St. Paul into a destination for upscale Mexican food. The space is open and airy, the “elote style” Brussels sprouts make me smile, the tacos and meats are savory with just enough spice, and the queso fundido is the most simple-but-ridiculously-delicious reason I’ll be heading there with frequency.
605 7th St., St. Paul
A fine-casual Japanese restaurant, PinKU is giving street food some flair. A smaller menu is offered from an open kitchen where what you see is what you get…and you get some good stuff. Fresh, time-tested, delicious.
20 University Ave., Minneapolis
Popol Vuh & Central
Popol Vuh and Central are the two parts of a duo-restaurant concept being headed up by Lyn 65’s team. Chef Jose Alarcon Popol Vuh will be cooking Mayan cuisine and Central will be a counter-service taqueria.
712 15th Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Punch Bowl Social
I don’t know if it’s the confit ribs or the pimento sandwiches that got me, but I’m in for this place, hook, line, and sinker. Even the hummus hits me just right. The West End place in St. Louis Park is abuzz with people playing games, bowling, eating, and getting their drink on, while also playing host to families and a superb non-alcoholic menu. Cardamom simple syrup is my kryptonite thanks to Punch Bowl Social.
1691 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park
Randle’s Restaurant & Bar
Randle’s Restaurant & Bar has taken over the former Ling & Louie’s location on Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis, named after the legendary Minnesota Viking’s defensive tackle, John Randle. Four floors of upscale sports bar and restaurant, you’ll find what you want at Randle’s.
921 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
One of the hottest spots to open on Washington Avenue lately, Red Rabbit is a hit with pizza, pasta, and oysters. Brought to us by Luke Shimp of the Red Cow restaurants, it’s more of what he does so well: comfortable sophistication.
201 N Washington Ave., Minneapolis
Red River Kitchen
As a hybrid of food trucks, a brick-and-mortar seasonally open location at City House in St. Paul, and a great view on the Mississippi, Red River Kitchen at City House opened last summer to great applause. With J.D. Fratzke and Matty O’Reilly, there’s a winning team at the helm. Be sure to get over there as the weather turns warm for this season’s offerings, or catch a truck out and about.
258 Mill St., St. Paul
Revival St. Paul
Oh, Revival. You crossed the river and we all rejoiced. Not only does having a Revival in St. Paul (maybe) release the pressure valve for getting into the Minneapolis location, but there’s a more extensive menu (and takeout) in St. Paul as well as a bar with the full liquor offerings. I mean, I know I’m a St. Paul gal so I’m biased, but I think we won this round. In addition to the usual award-winning fried chicken, burgers, and sides, there are butter barbecue ribs here. Butterscotch pie. Pork belly like butter. Blessed be Chef Thomas Boemer and co-owner Nick Rancone.
525 Selby Ave., St. Paul
Rose Street Patisserie
John Kraus not only gave us Patisserie 46 in South Minneapolis, but he also opened up this Linden Hills stunner to rave reviews. While I go in there and ogle the architectural desserts and usually take some of them home (as well as macarons and the melt-in-your-mouth brownies), I’m also a fan of grabbing a quick lunch of a grilled cheese and side salad. Whereas Patisserie 46 is more hustle-and-bustle in close quarters, this location is full of space and air and light. My favorites.
2811 W 43rd St., Minneapolis
Shake Shack Mall of America
In a gorgeous new food court at the Mall of America, this northern version of Shake Shack gives us burgers, fries, and all the fixings that have been loved for a long time in other locales around the country (and the world). I fell in love with a miso caramel malt from the get-go.
332 North Garden at the Mall of America, Bloomington
Spitz brings Mediterranean street food to East Hennepin in Minneapolis. Similar to gyro, al pastor, and shawarma meat, döner kebab is a type of meat that is cooked on a vertical rotisserie and it reigns supreme at Spitz. Have it done a variety of ways, check out some kick-ass art on the walls, listen to some tunes, and grab some craft beer.
518 E Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Stewart’s is a revamp of 128 Cafe near St. Thomas in St. Paul, with new menu items and a more prominent bar. Still serving up classic food for brunch, lunch, and dinner, the cocktails are also getting their due attention. I’m a fan of the steak tips, myself, but can find just about anything on the menu to please my palate.
128 Cleveland Ave., St. Paul
Tenant is a restaurant by chefs Cameron Cecchini and Grisha Hammes that’s planned to open in the old Piccolo space in South Minneapolis with very few seats and an ever-changing menu.
4300 Bryant Ave. S, Minneapolis
Revived by Josh Thoma, Jack Riebel, and Kevin Fitzgerald, The Lexington’s lights are back on, the kitchen is providing food for the well-dressed masses, and the staid and steady bar is serving up drinks for tippling. It’s a dinner club for Grand Avenue in St. Paul, with a throwback menu of names that include Diane, Gorbachev, and Stroganoff with plenty of steaks and even some liver and onions if you so choose.
1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul
Town Talk Diner & Gastropub
Town Talk Diner has taken on a new flavor under new ownership, focusing on a gastropub/modern American eatery menu. Located on Lake Street in Minneapolis, the lights of the iconic sign beckon diners to come inside for dinner or Sunday brunch made with locally sourced ingredients for a farm-to-table experience.
2707 E Lake St., Minneapolis
Tullibee is a design-centric restaurant in the Hewing Hotel on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. Still finding its footing in the food world here, the kitchen will be handed over from Grae Nonas to Bradley Day and will still feature Nordic food and sensibilities. As for me, I love to drink in the ambience. As I sip a pint glass of coffee wrapped in a Faribault Woolen Mill Co. coffee sleeve.
300 Washington Ave. N, Minneapolis
Okay, this is less about food as it is about a whole lot of drinks and over 60 beers on tap with a fantastic number of 50 arcade games from my childhood. Take my word for it that it’s a great first date locale. Sure, there’s pizza with unique toppings, but there’s also skee ball. Hold my drink.
3012 Lyndale Ave. S, Minneapolis
Located at 56th and Chicago in South Minneapolis, Xavi is a triumphant addition to the quiet neighborhood. When I can roll home happy and fed after just enjoying the pork belly appetizer, don’t even get me started about how pleased I was by the red curry braised short rib…and the almond cake that I got to go. Chef Michael Agan and front-of-house expert James Elm have a beauty of a spot at Xavi.
5607 Chicago Ave. S, Minneapolis
Believe all the good things you’ve heard and read about Young Joni. Ann Kim and Conrad Leifur of Pizzeria Lola and Hello Pizza, with their skilled staff, have done everything right at this new beautiful restaurant. There’s a speakeasy bar around back that is separate from the restaurant and a bit difficult to find, but it’s worth the hunt with a bar menu that differs from that in the restaurant. And then, if you can figure out how to get in the glass doors of the restaurant (I seem plagued by the doors of this place), find yourself the dry and canny server who made us laugh so hard and take all of her advice as to what to order. I know that the La Parisienne pizza with prosciutto, Gruyere, ricotta, brown butter, caramelized onion, and arugula will be the friend I go back to visit time and again…followed up with a platter of the Church Basement Cookie and Bar Plate with the best Special K bars ever.
165 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis